Sunday, January 2, 2022

:::: ALBUMS OF 2021 ::::



TOP ALBUMS OF 2021 IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER
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Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra  "Promises"  (Luaka Bop)
Coil  "Love's Secret Domain: 30th Anniversary Edition"  Reissue  (WaxTrax!)
The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble  Reissue Series  (Denovali)
Portico Quartet  "Terrain"  (Gondwana Recordings)
Gustav Mahler  "The Symphonies of Gustav Mahler"  Box Set  (Berliner Philharmoniker)
Klein  "Harmattan"  (Pentatone)
Akira Rabelais  "À La Recherche Du Temps Perdu"  (Argeïphontes)
John Cage  "Number Pieces"  (Another Timbre)
Marina Rosenfeld  "Teenage Lontano"  (Room 40)
Various Artists  "Somewhere Between: Mutant Pop, Minimalism & Shadow Sounds of Japan 1980-1988"  (Light in the Attic)
Georgia Anne Muldrow  "Vweto III"  (Epistrophik Peach Sound)
Sofa  "Source Crossfire: 1993 - 1997"  (Constellation)
Midwife  "Luminol"  (Flenser)
Moor Mother  "Black Encyclopedia of the Air"  (Anti-)
L'Rain  "Fatigue"  (Mexican Summer)
Circuit des Yeux  "io"  (Matador)
HTRK  "Rhinestones"  (N&J Blueberries)
Various Artists  "Sounds Of Pamoja"  (Nyege Nyege Tapes)
DJ Black Low  "Uwami"  (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
The Bug  "Fire"  (Ninja Tune)
aya  "im Hole"  (Hyperdub)
Space Afrika  "Honest Labour"  (Dais Records)
Alabaster DePlume  "To Cy & Lee: Instrumentals Vol. 1"  (International Anthem)
John Coltrane  "A Love Supreme: Live in Seattle"  (Impulse!)
Chelsea Wolfe & Converge  "Bloodmoon: I"  (Deathwish)
Jefre Cantu-Ledesma & Félicia Atkinson  "Un Hiver en Plein été"  (Shelter Press)
My Bloody Valentine  "Loveless" / "Isn't Anything" / "EPs"  Reissues  (Domino UK)
 
For decades this annual entry has acted as an overview of music, dance, theatre and performance art attended, films seen in the cinema, visual art exhibitions and fairs, festivals covered, and international and domestic destinations traveled. Due to the necessary and elementary considerations of the global coronavirus pandemic, and its effect amplified and protracted by the initial federal response and the politicization of the pandemic, very little of which transpired, again, this year. As a product the overview for 2021 will have a brevity not seen in almost twenty years of adventures in sight and sound. Born of necessity, and almost instantaneously early in the pandemic, the web became the surrogate for these experiences. With both live and archival music performances and the streaming of theatrical and festival offerings. Yet these deliver only a modicum of the sensations, social engagement, and sensory thrills and satisfactions of cultural happenings. The pragmatic response would be to accept the inherent losses and embrace what vestiges of a cultural life that could be salvaged. Yet these are poor surrogates, even temporarily. Subsequently, the first eight months of the year involved taking armchair routes to the year's memorable sights and sounds, devoid of the richness found in experience, in-person social engagement, and cultural context.

With the larger part of life being spent in our homes, the paths to engaging with film and music have been almost exclusively limited to those offered online. And while it’s role may be reduced in the age of streaming, the magazine, both print and digital can still be a defining tastemaker amid the multitude of channels in which to discover new music. For those not finding compelling sounds via their internet trawls, streaming platforms and online retailers like Boomkat, online institutions like The Quietus, and print entities like Blank Forms represent the kind of expertise you’ll not find coherently brought together online outside the framework of such vision and publishing legacy. Evolving right along with the times from a free improv, modern classical and jazz magazine in the 1970s, by the 1980s The Wire  expanded its scope to include post-rock and electronic music. Coming to the 1990s to evolve into the all-inclusive hip hop, dub and reggae, noise, punk, post-everything, jazz, black and doom metal, bass music, dance, techno and house, free folk, psych, kraut and nipponese rock, minimalism, sound-art, and out-sounds publication it became by the conclusion of the 20th century. A particular advantage at year's end, is that the magazine offers the opportunity to Listen to The Wire Top 50 Releases of 2021. Similarly, film institutions like those below offer a worldly scope, compiling the life’s work of people who have made watching their enterprise. Year and year again, Sight & Sound, Film Comment, Cinema-Scope, Criterion Collection's The Current, and The Guardian's excellent film coverage have brought focus to the year of moving pictures from around the globe.

With the arrival and wider availability of the various vaccines, after a year and a half of navigating the complexities of the pandemic restrictions and closures, in-person programming returned in August and September to many of the regional arts venues. Early fall saw the first major steps towards reopening after nearly eighteen months of closure for the regional independent music venues, and Seattle's independent cinemas. Prioritizing the safety of their patrons, proof of vaccination, facial coverings and capacity limits were established as prerequisites by the majority of these community cultural settings. In many cases, their future remained uncertain until as recently as this past February when the federal stimulus bill was approved and the funding for arts and culture that came with it. Relief funding became available with the benefits of the Save Our Stages Act finally beginning to arrive, alongside the newly implemented Shuttered Venues Grant. The benefits of the various pandemic relief bills, alongside regional infrastructure like the 4Culture Relief Fund, awareness efforts like the Washington Nightlife Music Association, crowdfunding and philanthropy like the ArtistRelief, ArtsFund grant, and GiveBig Washington have come in the 11th hour for many of these venues and institutions.